No one really thought that UCLA had a chance against Oklahoma last week. And that turned out to be correct. UCLA lost 48-14, as Heisman contender Jalen Hurts tore UCLA apart through the air and on the ground, while UCLA continued to play terrible football in just about every phase of the game. Even the free tickets UCLA gave out earlier in the week weren’t enough to keep the Bruins fans in the stadium, as UCLA is now reaching historic lows under the second year of Chip Kelly‘s regime.
Ready for the fun part? UCLA is now 0-3 on the year, and drops to 3-12 overall under Chip Kelly. They are the only power five team in the country with an 0-3 record. And this is the first time in 98 YEARS that UCLA has started back to back seasons 0-3. That brings us back to 1920 and 1921, only the second and third years that UCLA played football.
It’s true that there’s a lot of season left. UCLA did start last year 0-3 and playing horribly as well, before showing intermittent improvement throughout the season. The problem is, that was last year. UCLA should have picked up where they left off at the end of last season, and instead, they seem to have regressed to the lowest of lows in Chip Kelly’s second year.
For this coming Saturday, UCLA’s division slate kicks off in the very competitive Pac-12 South with a trip to the 19th ranked Washington State Cougars, led by head coach Mike Leach. They’ve got a hot young quarterback, and Leach’s air raid system is rolling seamlessly as usual. Leach’s offense probably comes as close as there is to the purest form of the increasingly hazily defined air raid offense. It’s an offense that’s rather simple at its core. They take a few key plays and concepts, and they just get really good at them. Maybe Chip Kelly, the supposed “offensive mastermind” who has struggled to find an identity for his Bruins this year, should take notes.
5 UCLA Players To Watch Against Washington State
1) Devin Asiasi – Tight End
The former four star recruit and transfer from Michigan had received interest from Mike Leach coming out of high school. He had 3 receptions for 71 yards on some nice throws last week from the struggling Dorian Thompson-Robinson. It’s a solid guess that if the passing game is going to take off, it’s going to start with these two developing a rhythm. Let’s see if that can continue.
2) Joshua Kelley – Running Back
Kelley, UCLA’s workhorse running back of last year, has started the season recovering from injury. This week, the brace that he’s been wearing finally came off in practice, so that’s a good sign. Running back Demetric Felton was much more efficient and explosive last week against Oklahoma than Kelley was, yet Kelley got the lion’s share of the carries nonetheless.
He hasn’t yet been able to recapture his form from last year, but with what is hopefully close to a fully healthy knee, let’s see if he can begin to do so next week. Chip Kelly doesn’t seem to be a RB by committee type of guy. If I had to guess, I’d say that he’d ultimately like Kelley to be the running back and Felton the receiving back. But let’s see how the carries split up next week.
3) Osa Odighizuwa – Defensive Lineman
This team has been unable to get a pass rush going so far. Their run defense has been slightly better, but that doesn’t mean much against a Washington State team that loves to pass and almost never runs. Facing a really good Washington State offensive line, this could be a long day for the Bruins defense.
However, Osa Odighizuwa was UCLA’s highest graded defender last week according to Pro Football Focus, with an impressive 78.4 grade. He also seemed to take on a leadership role at practice this past week. Granted, most of his high grade was due to his run defense, not his pass defense. Let’s see if he’s able to transfer that over this coming week
4) Darnay Holmes – Defensive Back
This Bruins team has not been just lacking in talent and scheme to start the season; they’ve also been injured. We’re still waiting on Theo Howard and Keisean-Lucier South to make their ways back, but Darnay Holmes was able to hit the field last as a veteran presence to boost a struggling defense. Against pass heavy Washington State, he’ll be key this week.
5) JJ Molson – Placekicker
Molson has been a steady and reliable kicker throughout his tenure at UCLA. But he’s missed both his kicks to start the season, so he’s one to keep an eye on. If he misses another kick next week, we may have an issue.
Washington State is an 18 point favorite against UCLA. Unfortunately, 0-4 is likely on the horizon.